US alliance and Trump

In the light of remarks he made during the campaign, Donald Trump’s election raises questions about the extent to which Australia can rely on the United States of America for military protection. The folly of over-reliance on a foreign power for the nation’s defence should now be absolutely clear. No doubt senior figures in our defence establishment are grappling with this realization right now.


What they should do is look on this as an opportunity to completely re-assess Australia’s approach to its defence. The hallmark of any truly independent nation is, surely, the willingness and capacity for that nation to look after its own defence. Now is the time to open debate on how Australia might best do just that.


The strategic situation was fluid enough before the election. We now face a very uncertain future. This is the time for Australians to accept the reality of true independence and the responsibilities that that brings. Time for the nation to stand up and assert with confidence that we can look after ourselves!


Nick Deane

Marrickville Peace Group



Sydney Seminar- PINE GAP and the US-Australia alliance

The US-controlled communications facility at Pine Gap is an essential component of the United States war-fighting machine. 2016 marks 50 years since the agreement that brought it into existence was signed, making this a time to bring it back into public discussion.


Come to

A public seminar,

arranged by the Independent Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC), to discuss:

national logo for ipan

national logo for ipan



With the spread of global terrorism and tensions rising in the China Seas and Eastern Europe, it is time for Australians to start talking seriously about our alliance with the United States and whether or not we, the people, are willing to accept a global situation of ‘perpetual war’.



All day 10.00am to 3.00pm,

Sunday September 11, 2016

CFMEU Headquarters

12, Railway Street


(Easily accessible from Lidcombe Railway Station. On-site parking available)

Speakers will include:-


James O’Neill.

a Brisbane-based barrister, outspoken critic of the Australia/US alliance and frequent contributor to the journal ‘Near Eastern Outlook’. He will speak on the topic

The South China Sea; Australia and the wider geopolitical context.”


Dr Emily Howie

a Melbourne-based academic specializing in Australian foreign policy at the Human Rights Law Centre. Her title is

“Targeted killing using drones in a secret war, what we know about Australia’s involvement and possible legal implications for Australia.”


Dr Vincent Scappatura

a Sydney-based academic with a special interest in the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia Pacific Region. His topic

“The perils of the US alliance.”


The seminar is an opportunity for Sydney-siders to inform themselves about these vitally important issues, that will be receiving further attention at IPAN’s third national conference, to take place in Alice Springs on October 2.




Australian Anti-Bases Coalition & IPAN-NSW Statement

                                                                 August 18, 2014

On 12 August 2014, the Australian Government hosted United States Secretary of State John Kerry and United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Sydney for the 2014 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN). AUSMIN covers military matters, foreign affairs and trade in the region.

Ignoring advice from prominent Australians that we are too ‘close to the US’, the Abbott Government engaged in more abject groveling. Former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr have all said that Australia’s interests are not served by servility to the US super power but require greater independence.

Paul Keating was reported as saying in the Keith Murdoch Oration 2012 that “Australia was over deferential to the US” (Diary of a Foreign Minister by Bob Carr p 217).

The combined weight of the Abbott Government and US officials has squashed any tendency towards a more independent Australia. Instead the path of ‘all the way with the USA’ was reinforced by AUSMIN 2014.

Australia’s interests are best served by good relations and co-operation with all countries, especially Indonesia and China.  Tension between the US and China is not beneficial for Australia and the region.  The most advantageous policy for Australia is to steer an independent course in our region.  AUSMIN charts a path that will lead inevitably towards heightened tensions and even the possibility of war between the US and China and hence is a road map to hell.

The teaming up of the US, Japan and Australia in a tight tri-power arrangement is a move to tighten containment of China.  Japan has been being congratulated for ‘re-interpreting’ its pacifist constitution so its forces can become more integrated with the US military.

Who will pay the millions, possibly billions of dollars over time for the 2,500 Marines rotating through Darwin has not been clarified, but it is now clear that there will be increased US Navy and US Air Force visits.  B52’s – infamous for their bombing of Vietnam – will be allowed into Australia for the first time since they were banned from our skies because they carried nuclear weapons.

The Australian Anti-Bases Coalition and IPAN-NSW have campaigned for information on the rules governing the stationing of Marines in Darwin.  But AUSMIN provided no answers to important questions such as “who will pay for the marines?” and “can the US marines undertake military action from Australian bases without Australian government agreement”. Vague general references are made to interoperability, strategic collaboration and the annual huge military exercise Talisman Sabre but the meaning is clear — Australia’s military and military budget are to be skewed to serve the interests of US foreign policy.

Hamish McDonald (Saturday Paper 16/8/14) points out:

Another question left unspoken is about the freedom of Washington to deploy its forces directly out of Australia, and the level of consultation required with Canberra. The distinction between training and basing is blurring.

Missile warfare is given prominence in the AUSMIN statement, this reveals that the ground stations at Pine Gap, and Geraldton and the three Jindalee radar stations in Australia would be the eyes of the US-Australian-Japanese anti-ballistic missile network.

The possibility of anti-missile firings from Australian and Japanese airwarfare destroyers being controlled by the US central command is lauded by AUSMIN.  This proposal would mean Australia would lose control of Australian weapons and it leaves open the prospect that Australian missiles could slam into Chinese or Russian missiles without any input from Australia – an appalling, dangerous and depressing possibility.

This approach also risks Australia being drawn into the North versus South Korean conflict and Japanese regional belligerence. Once again, Australia’s interests would be sacrificed by involvement in conflicts that have no relevance for this country but are part of US regional strategy.

Since 2012 AUSMIN statements have included an Indian Ocean component as well as the Pacific one. This is true this year as the Indian Ocean’s importance rises with the rise of India.  The AUSMIN statement says:

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to comprehensive engagement in the rapidly developing Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.


The focus on the Indian Ocean brings West Australia and its naval and air bases into the orbit of the US interest.  Using these bases the US will be able to throw its weight around in the Indian Ocean as it does around the Pacific, now often described as the ‘American lake’.

AUSMIN also welcomes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This deal has many in Australian community extremely worked up about its restrictions on Australian pharmaceutical, intellectual property and cultural standards and norms. The AUSMIN communique says the two countries will deepen “regional integration, open new trade and investment opportunities”. The question is for whom?  And the answer is clear – for large US. Japanese and Australian corporations. They may reap some benefits but the small countries of the Pacific will have their precious resources ripped off with little or no return to their people.

The same fulsome support for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is evident in the communique.

The AUSMIN statement shows no appreciation of the real needs of the peoples of the region while it pontificates on the kind of stability that is desirable in the region and also commits to maintaining the status quo in favour of US big business and military domination.

On the terrorism of the Islamic State in Iraq, there is no reference to where this bloody organization is getting its weapons and money nor any suggesting of how the flow of these items can be prevented. And there is certainly no apology from the US or Australia for creating the mess that is Iraq today.

Disaster relief is confirmed in the AUSMIN statement as a major justification for increased US troop deployments in the Asia-Pacific region as well as for increased Australian military spending.

US and Australian officials stress that a key focus of the US military build-up in Australia is to have the necessary resources ready to provide humanitarian aid for natural disasters. However, it is not clear what roles aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and the fighters, tankers and bombers slated at AUSMIN to be deployed to Australia would contribute to disaster relief operations.

However, military humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations provide a popular and convenient justification for maintaining such a massive presence in the Asia-Pacific, helping to showcase the military’s ‘helpfulness’, to legitimise its presence and soften its image.

Because disaster relief is not the military’s primary role or area of expertise, it is not cost-effective, efficient, or transparent. Disaster militarism not only fails to address the underlying causes for the growing rate of natural disasters, such as climate change, it is a significant contributor to them. The US military is the worst polluter on the planet.

On every level AUSMIN is a road map to hell and finds the Australian Government still not learning the lessons of the importance of independence, positive and mutually beneficial co-existence and peace. The Australian Anti-Bases Coalition and IPAN-NSW renew their commitment to bringing about a peaceful and independent Australia.

Pine Gap — time for Australians to decide

For immediate release

Friday, November 1, 2013


Pressure is building for a public enquiry into the Pine Gap military base.

“Pine Gap was set up in secret and sold to the Australian people by deception as a space research station,” said Denis Doherty, national co-ordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC).

“In reality Pine Gap has been used in the past and is used today by the United States to spy on both its enemies and its allies. It collects political, military, diplomatic. commercial and economic intelligence for the US.

The base is used to spy on Australian citizens and the Government of our country.

“Edward Snowden has exposed Pine Gap’s role in intercepting the private messages of individuals.

“Now we learn that Australia is complicit in US intelligence gathering about Indonesia and other countries of our region,” Mr Doherty went on.

“But these are just the countries where Australia should be working to develop good neighbourly and mutually beneficial relations.

“The United States also uses the Pine Gap base to select targets for drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries, making Australia complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights abuses.

“Our coalition has been arguing for a public enquiry into the role of Pine Gap for over 25 years.

“Australian governments must stop hiding behind claims they cannot discuss ‘security matters’ and come clean about what is actually going on at Pine Gap,” he said.

“The people of Australia have never been advised of the purpose or cost of Pine Gap.

“Now is the time for a public enquiry into the role of the Pine Gap, the United States surveillance and war fighting base in the centre of our country,” Mr Doherty concluded.

For more information:

contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

Our websites:,


RAN Sea Power Conference 2013 and the ‘pivot’.


DSCN0864The theme of the 2013 Conference is Naval Diplomacy and Maritime Power Projection: The Utility of Navies in the Maritime Century, which is designed to capitalise on the presence of many foreign navies in Sydney for the International Fleet Review


The theme will examine the contemporary utility of navies as tools of statecraft, from hard and soft power perspectives. It will also explore, in a dedicated session, the notion of ‘a maritime school of strategic thought;’ a debate that has emerged in Australia in 2012, ahead of the promulgation of a revised National Security Statement and Defence White Paper.


Excerpts from the official blurb on its website.


The Naval Powers Conference comes at a time when the Obama’s aggressive policy called ‘pivot to Asia’ is starting to take effect.  This policy means that the US will be paying more attention to the Asia Pacific area after a period of concentrating on or being distracted by the Middle East.  When the US was involved in the Middle East they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and assisted in the destruction of Libya.  This record of violence and destruction in the Middle East is very worrying if the US is applying its attention to our area.


The most basic feature of the Pivot is to bring 60% of US Naval assets into the Pacific and this feature is well under way with more aircraft carriers being moved into the Pacific.


The pivot has let loose a rush to increase navies across the region, with the allies of the US particularly Japan, South Korea and Australia ‘beefing up’ their navies to suit the imperial dictates of the US.


Japan Unveils the Izumo, Its Largest Warship Since WWII, Amid Tensions With China

Read more:

On Aug. 6, Japan launched its largest warship since World War II in a fresh demonstration of Tokyo’s steadily expanding naval capabilities.


Japan has a ranking as the third biggest navy in the world before the launching of the above ship.  It is maintaining and extending its number of bases for the use of the US Navy.


South Korea comes in 9th in the world for navy hardware.  ROK is building a new Naval Base on the island of Jeju again as part of the US pivot.  This base building ignores the unique maritime environment of which Jeju is.


Australia too with the prospect of 12 submarines and three possibly 4 Air warfare destroyers and other items at present due to be purchased is engaged in a massive naval build-up.


The conference talks about hard and soft power perspectives for the navy.  What are soft options?  Gunboat diplomacy where the mere presence of military hardware is enough to bring nations to obey the US or the west’s orders.  Hard perspectives?  These must be the use of weapons on small nations.


Where else in our region is the US acting in a preparatory way for war?


From the North Pacific to the India continent the US has measures either in place, being constructed or being negotiated to station troops, materiel and make new bases.


The US itself has started building a massive naval base on the Island of Guam which is basically a colony of the US.  The new base will house pens for nuclear subs, and places for large warships including aircraft carriers as well updating auxiliary facilities such as US Air Force aerodrome and hangars.


The US has reimposed itself on the Philippines with previous bases being reactivated and put at the disposal of the US military.  The former base at Subic Bay has hosted 68 US naval ships so far this year.  The US has also conducted a large number of military exercises on the Philippines.  Many Filipinos now say their whole country is a US base now.


There are similar advances in the following countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Myamar even Vietnam has been approached for a naval base.  Of course the US is also very involved in encouraging India to become part of the so called ‘pivot’.


This is the regional atmosphere we are facing as the Naval Powers Conference gets underway, it can only lead to facilitating more tension in the region.


What is the basic focus of the pivot?


We agree with the commentators who say that these measures are aimed at ‘containing China’, a position that can only harm Australia and region.


The strategic thinking behind this pivot is for the US to increase the pressure on China.  Our region’s Malacca Straits near Singapore is what is known as a choke point where a large number of cargo ships go through narrow straits.  Through this strait go about 85% of China’s fuel and the US is aiming to choke off China’s trade should it feels the need to.



What is Australia’s Role in the pivot?


Australia has cooperated with the pivot firstly by stationing of 2500 US Marines on our soil.  There is talk of further inroads by the US onto our land with bases for US navy assets in Darwin and Fremantle WA which could include nuclear submarines.  On top of this was the suggestion that the Cocos Islands could house a base for US drone activity for the region.


The US has requested that the Darwin Marine component be hurried up so that the 2500 number can be reached sooner than expected.  The US has just announced (Aug 23, 2013) it will be setting up a new naval force to support the marines in Darwin.  It is called the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG).  With this force the US is aiming to support the marines in Darwin to go to war.


What impact this will have on the region?

In regard to Australia it is not in our interest to be on bad relations with China as it is our major trading partner.  Chinese finance is kick starting our fuel industry both oil and gas in the North West of the country.  As well many of Australia CEO’s are alarmed that Australia’s military policy is threatening their economic well being.  The whole of Australia’s population stands to benefit from good relations with China.  As well our relations with our neighbours will be negatively effected by our support for the US’s bellicose attitudes and policies.


Australia’s interests are also threatened by exorbitant spending on the military as it robs other parts of our community such as health and education to pay for naval assets.  These purchases can only further increase tensions between our numerous Asian Pacific neighbours as we resort to gunboat diplomacy instead of diplomacy.


Ultimately we need to remind everyone of the worst case scenario for our region.  The worst possible outcome we could face is a nuclear exchange between the US and China which is what all of us in the region would seek to avoid.  However, Australia in its blind support of the US is bringing closer this scenario rather being a positive influence for peace in the region.



The Navy has to have conferences to improve its skills and all understanding of its job in our region. So why object?

While this conference is held in prestigious surrounds and has an air of respectability, the reality is quite different.  This conference is an occasion for the agents of the shadiest and most evil industries to strut their stuff.  This is a golden opportunity for the arms trade, the dealers of death and destruction to promote their wares.  These are the war profiteers who feed on misery and destruction.  Arms Trade corporations from all countries are implicated in a range of corruption scandals in their own countries in other countries.  Their work often include arming both sides of a conflict as they did in the Iraq war.  We object to the conference on the grounds it is an arm trading fare with a particular emphasis on maritime component.


This conference is NOT an academic exercise, it rather a combination of arms fair and academia which tries to obscure its sinister purpose.



Threat of US war launched from Australian soil

Friday, August 23, 2013

Australia could be the base for war waged by US Marines stationed in Darwin, according to a report recently released in Washington.

US Navy Operations chief Jon Greenert says the US navy plans to provide amphibious lift for US marines with an Amphibious Readiness Group stationed close to Darwin, probably on the Pacific island of Guam.

“The Marines were supposed to be in Australia for training. Now we are told they will be operating out of Australia. Not training but killing,” Denis Doherty from the Anti-Bases campaign said in Sydney today.

“For months we have been asking the Australian Government for assurances that US military on our soil will not be used for aggressive actions.

“The replies received from the PM’s office have not addressed that crucial question.  We have been asking since April 2012.  No straightforward answer has been forthcoming.

“We have already concluded that the government has received no such assurances, so in our most recent letter we have put it to Mr. Rudd that he could not provide the assurance we sought.

“Without that assurance and with the recent statement from the US Navy Operations Chief, it is clear that the US Marine can engage in hostilities from their base in Darwin.

“This move will damage Australia’s relations with China, our major trading partner, potentially damaging the Australian economy,” Denis Doherty continued.

“We have warned that the US strategic pivot to Australia and the Pacific could turn all Australia into a US base and we are watching our worst fears come true.  The US pivot is increasing tension in the whole region, it is in fact making us less secure and poorer as we pour resources into military assets we do not need for the sake of the US.

“First marines, war games, ship and plane visits and drones, then the announcement of planes to be stationed in the NT, and now an amphibious group to take the marines to war.

“What further agreements are being secretly negotiated now?” Denis Doherty asked.


For more information, contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

Visit our websites:


China more questions than answers

John Garnaut

John Garnaut is The Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s China correspondent

Praised … Australian diplomat, Dennis Richardson. Photo: Michel O’Sullivan

AUSTRALIA has been quietly building a regional defence coalition to restrain China’s increasingly ”aggressive” and ”autistic” international behaviour, an influential adviser to the Pentagon says.Edward Luttwak bluntly contradicts Australian and US denials that they see China as a threat or want to contain its rise.”Australians view themselves as facing a strategic threat,” he writes in his coming book, The Rise of China v The Logic of Strategy.


Taken to task over China … James Packer. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

The emerging latticework of regional defence arrangements augments ”the overall capacity of the US-Australian alliance to contain China”.The book praises Australia’s strategic initiative in forging ties with countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and India that lie beyond America’s natural security orbit, as well as broadening the defence networks of close US allies such as Japan.

”Each of these Australian initiatives derives from a prior and broader decision to take the initiative in building a structure of collective security piece by piece, and not just leave it all to the Americans,” it says.


“Unlike Mr Packer, I like the Chinese” … Pentagon Consultant, Edward Luttwak.

Mr Luttwak is a consultant to the Pentagon’s in-house think tank, the Office of Net Assessment, and has high-level access to Chinese and US military officials. His book, to be published in November, stems from a research project commissioned by the ONA’s 91-year-old director, Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s ”futurist-in-chief”.

China’s impact on Asia-Pacific security has been on display this week after it hardened territorial claims over the tiny Japanese-administered islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The dispute weighed on financial markets in both countries as investors factored in a risk of war. ”If necessary, we could make the Diaoyu Islands a target range for China’s Air Force and plant mines around them,” said General Luo Yuan, in the state-run Global Times.

A professor of Japanese studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Zhou Weihong, said China was ”testing” its new-found economic and military power and the results were not yet in.

The Australian National University’s Hugh White has argued that the US needs to ”share power” with what is going to be ”the most formidable power the US has ever faced”. But for Mr Luttwak, the ”logic of strategy” dictates that neighbours will naturally coalesce against the new rising threat, thus preventing China from realising anything like the relative military power that has been projected.

”The rapid accession to prosperity has been a very common way for countries to lose their sanity,” Mr Luttwak told the Herald. He said China suffered from ancient and new foreign policy weaknesses.”The Chinese are autistic in dealing with foreigners, they have no sense of the ‘other’,” he said. ”They think they are incredibly brilliant strategists as if they had been conquering other nations, when in fact it’s been the other way around for 1500 years.”

While Mr Luttwak’s critique will challenge prevailing understandings in Western policy circles, it echoes criticisms in China itself.

A spokeswoman for the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, said: ”It is not possible for a country or countries to contain another country with a population of 1.3 billion. The shifting strategic influences must be managed by the international community …”Mr Luttwak also took James Packer to task for urging Australia to show more ”gratitude” towards China.

Mr Packer, whose casino businesses in Macau and Australia are underpinned by Chinese gamblers, told a conference last week that ”China has been a better friend to us than we have been to China”.

Mr Luttwak praised Australia’s top diplomat, Dennis Richardson, for rejecting ”Packerism”. ”Packer should shut up … because if a country as prosperous as Australia has to compromise its values for the sake of business then what is it that we can ask of poorer countries?

”If a country as rich as Australia needs to appease the Chinese when the Chinese misbehave then, then it has no dignity.”

Mr Luttwak said: ”I don’t know anybody important here who wants to start a war with China, and I don’t know anybody important who wants to follow the Packer line.”

A Definitive Review by Dr Hannah Middleton


By Dr Hannah Middleton
Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition

On November 17 2011 US President Obama said, in a speech to the Australian Parliament: “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.”

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the same time announced that 250 rising to 2,500 US Marines will be stationed at an Australian base inDarwinin theNorthern Territory. The new deal also includes an increased number of visits by US ships and aircraft, greater US access to Australian military bases, more joint military exercises (for ‘interoperability’ so the Australian Defence Force can work effectively under US orders and with US equipment) and the storage of greater amounts of US military material and equipment in Australia.

The decision was announced after many months of secret negotiations. It will have far-reaching local impacts and foreign policy consequences and yet the announcement was made without debate in Parliament or any consultation with Australians.

Recently the Australian Government completed a Force Posture Review which recommended moving Australian military assets to the north and west of the continent. The reason given was protection of major Australian economic assets, including mineral deposits and offshore oil and gas. Actually the Review recommendations, which are already being implemented, are support measures for the USmilitary realignment that threatens to bring war to our doorstep.

The Wall Street Journal (27/1/12) indicates that theUS marines will use the new forward-staging base inDarwin as a launch pad for Southeast Asia, signallingChina that theUS has quick-response capability inBeijing’s backyard.

Target China

The new doctrine placesChinaat the centre of US “security” concerns and prioritises expansion ofUSwar making capacities in Asia and the Pacific andIndianOceans.

Hilary Clinton, writing last November in Foreign Policy, asserted that the new Asia-Indo-Pacific focus puts the US “in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values…

“Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia.”

The movement of the majority of US military assets to the region, plus military facilities and deployment of US troops, ships and planes in Australia and so many other countries in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, gives the US the ability to  shut down China’s imports of energy and raw materials and to cripple its economy.

China’s military expansion is actually small compared to US military.Australia’s intelligence community has stated thatChina’s current limited military build-up is not a threat toAustralia.  Rather it isChina’s response to the hugeUSmilitary expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

Despite the fact thatChina’s military budget is less than one tenth that of theUS,Chinais providing the “enemy” theUSmilitary-industrial complex requires.

A new book, The Kingdom and the Quarry: China, Australia, Fear and Greed, by David Uren, reveals the existence of a secret chapter inAustralia’s 2009 Defence White Paper that contemplated war withChina.

Not a new policy

President Obama introduced this military realignment at the Pentagon on January 5 this year when he unveiled the policy document entitled Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defence.

The ideas in this policy document are not actually new.

In 2001 a strategic review conducted by the Bush administration concluded that: “… the Pacific Ocean should now become the most important focus of U  military deployments, with China now perceived as the principal threat to American global dominance” and its number one enemy.”

September 11, 2001 sent them in another direction. President Bush shifted focus to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the projection of American power throughout theMiddle East.

Later, on June 4, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech inSingapore, signalling a new emphasis in White House policy making. He criticised what he calledChina’s ongoing military build-up and claimed that it posed a threat to regional peace and stability.

USstrategy was spelt out in the Pentagon’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). This said theUnited Stateswill not allow the rise of a competing superpower. “Of the major and emerging powers,” the QDR says, “China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages”

Preparing for war withChinawill also provide additional super profits for theU.S.armaments corporations. It will be the primary justification for the acquisition of costly new weapons systems

Further US expansion

A report for theUSmilitary contains a recommendation to expandAmerica’s defence presence inAustraliaby massively expanding a base inPerthfor aUSaircraft carrier and supporting fleet. The plan is included as part of one of four options set out in a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), commissioned by the Department of Defence.

The third option in the report – formally titled US Force Posture Strategy in the Asia Pacific Region: An Independent Assessment – details moving aUS carrier strike group to the HMAS Stirling base inPerth. The strike group would include a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, a carrier air wing of up to nine squadrons, one or two guided missile cruisers, two or three guided missile destroyers, one or two nuclear powered submarines and a supply ship.

“Australia’s geography, political stability, and existing defence capabilities and infrastructure offer strategic depth and other significant military advantages to theUnited Statesin light of the growing range of Chinese weapons systems, US efforts to achieve a more distributed force posture, and the increasing strategic importance of south-east Asia and theIndian Ocean,” says the report.

Extraordinary growth

Obama’s “pivot” is taking place against the background of the extraordinary growth in US-Australian military and intelligence co-operation over the last decade.

Australiasigned on for three new “training bases” with theUSmilitary at the annual Australian-US Ministerial Consultations inWashingtonin July 2004. Facilities at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area inQueenslandand the Bradshaw Land Training Area andDelamereAirWeaponsRangein theNorthern Territoryare being developed at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. The three facilities will be linked with US bases and inter-linked through a node in the Pacific War Fighting Centre inHawai’i. The Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Australia refers to the need for planes, ships and submarines based in Guam, or rotated to Guam from Hawai’i or the US continent, to have access to training facilities which only Australia can provide.

The commitment to enhanced joint exercises takesAustraliafurther down the path of “interoperability” — the process of the gradual fusion of the Australian Defence Force into a de-facto arm of theUnited Statesmilitary.

Pine Gap, 20 kms southeast ofAlice Springs, is one of the largest and most important US war fighting and intelligence bases in the world. It is a satellite ground control station. Pine Gap is connected to the Space Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS), which is a key element in missile defence. It is the most important of at least 30USmilitary facilities already inAustralia.

Space-tracking facilities inAustraliaare being networked into a regional missile defence system with the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) to become an increasingly important component of the system.

Darwinis a port city on the northern coast. It is ideally placed to control of the strategic Timor Gap naval passage and for US plans for containment ofChina.

It is also no accident that Halliburton, US Vice President Dick Cheney’s corporation, has recently built what is a strategic railway from Alice Springs (near Pine Gap) toDarwin.

The Australian Government recently signed an agreement to allow US forces to return toNorth WestCape, (the Harold E Holt military base at Exmouth inWest Australia). As well as a US VLF submarine communications base,North WestCapewill be the  site for the US Space Surveillance Network sensors.

In addition, the Australian Government is already giving much greater attention and money to cyber warfare and is also buying its own drones.

ANZUS alliance

Signed in 1952, the ANZUS treaty underpinsAustralia’s military relationship with theUSA.

Despite the views of the Australian public, ANZUS does not contain specific commitments or any guarantees that theUSwill assistAustraliain times of need, even though it speaks vaguely about “consultation” and “action in accordance with constitutional processes”.

Unlike NATO, which obliged each country to come to the aid of all signatories, ANZUS only obliged each party to consult if aggression was threatened.

The only times the treat has been invoked in the 60 years since its signing, Australia has ended up paying in one way or another for US strategic interests and US aggression.

It is not a mutual pact. It is a treaty of Australian subservience and a cover for aggression. It subvertsAustralia’s sovereignty, distorts the country’s economy, and undermines its citizens’ security.

Negative impacts

The alliance with “our great and powerful friend” allegedly servesAustralia’s security needs but this has never been tested. On the other side of the ledger are the human, financial, environmental, social and political cost to Australians.

The US-Australia military alliance distorts our society. Instead of a focus on sustainable development, socially useful production and the needs of the community, priority is given to supportingUSforeign policy, military spending and increasingly repressive social control. The beneficiaries are not our people but theUSand Australian militaries together with hugeUScorporations and some Australian companies.

Economic impacts

Australia’s current military spending of over Aus$80 million a day steals the resources which should be funding human and social needs. Much of this spending is dictated by the equipment needed to fight in coalition with theUS, not byAustralia’s genuine defence needs.

Promises of economic development for all are a mirage. Pubs, restaurants and massage parlours will make lots of money but ordinary people won’t see a cent. AndAustralia’s important he tourist industry will suffer.

Military spending creates far fewer jobs than spending the same dollars on civilian projects. When theUSbase at North West Cape (WA) closed down, the neighbouring town ofExmouthexperienced an economic boom. Now the base is to re-open.

Preparing for war withChinaprovides additional super profits for theUSarmaments corporations. It has been and will be the primary justification for the acquisition of costly new weapons systems inAustraliatoo.

Resources committed to the military mean less money for developing strong social cohesion and stability within the nation through employment programs and the health, education and housing needs of Australians and our neighbours.

A feature of military expenditure is its “opportunity costs”, that is, the opportunities which are foregone for alternative consumption and investment. Military spending reduces investment and diverts funds and personnel from civilian research and development.

“To advocate an alternative, independent foreign policy would mean a great saving in our defence spending. On a recent ABC TV “Insiders” program, journalist George Megalogenis estimated we could halveAustralia’s Defence budget. Imagine an additional Aus$14 billion dollars available for implementing the Gonski Report on Education, additional funding for health, care for the elderly and those with disabilities, investment in alternative energy production and conservation and increase in the allocation for overseas aid.” (Alan McPhate, “New Directions in Australian Foreign Policy”, Australian Humanist, No.107, 2012)

Environmental impacts

TheUSmilitary holds an unenviable position as one of the world’s worst polluters, and yet the Australian Government has invited them into environmentally significant Australian wilderness.

Considerable environmental problems have developed during the Talisman Sabre joint military exercises, and an increase in war games on Australian soil is on the agenda.

Talisman Sabre is held every second year in world heritage areas, natural heritage listed sites which include indigenous sites and Ramsar wetlands

Environmental impacts identified by the Australian Department of Defence include effects on air quality, potential harm to marine animals (including threatened species such as loggerhead turtles, dugongs and whales), fire potential, noise pollution, waste disposal and spills and erosion from amphibian craft landings and weapon target zones, collisions with marine mammals, and contamination from toxic chemicals including red and white phosphorus and perchlorate.

The Department of Defence does not include the presence of nuclear powered warships within theGreat Barrier ReefMarineParkas an environmental risk.

A delicate, pristine ecology experiences a blitzkrieg.  At a time when climate change dominates our thoughts, the Talisman Sabre war games spew vast amounts of greenhouse gases from all the ships, tanks, planes and explosions which it unleashes. Australiahas laws punishing littering but government sanctioned military environmental terrorism is apparently above the law.

Disputes about who is responsible for contamination at the Harold Holt Naval Base inWestern Australia(North WestCape) ares ongoing between theUSand Australian authorities. Such disputes can be expected to increase in the future as theUSmilitary footprint inAustraliaexpands.

Social impacts

The majority of the majorUSbases inAustraliaare located on Aboriginal land and deny the indigenous people of this country their land rights.

OverseasUSbases have become the centre of major social problems. They are linked to increases in violence, prostitution, drugs, alcoholism, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, and abuse of women and children. The Australian experience is similar.

There have been incidents such as United States MPs assaulting Aborigines in an Ipswich (Queensland) pub during the 1997 Tandem Thrust war games and a February 2004 court case inDarwinwhen twoUSservicemen were charged with rape. An Anglican Church report fromHobartinTasmaniadetails frequent sexual assaults on juvenile men and women by US service people.

Communities around US bases have recorded high levels of rapes committed by foreign soldiers, and other violent crimes. It would be foolish not to expect the same to happen inDarwinand around the Stirling naval base inWest Australia.

Legal impacts

The 1963 Status of Forces Agreement betweenAustraliaand theUSholds that in circumstances where an alleged offence is committed by an officer in the course of his or her official duties,Australiahas an international obligation to give theUSprimary jurisdiction to deal with the officer.

This led to Attorney General Robert McClelland issuing a certificate that allowed the killing of a cyclist inWillowbank,Queenslandby aUSnaval officer to be handled by US authorities.

Military impacts

Australia’s support for and integration with the USmilitary increases the hostility that the country attracts and increases the risks of it becoming a target. Already Australia’s intimacy with the USreportedly makes the nation of far more interest to the intelligence agencies of other states, including China. (Philip Dorling, “Australia, Canada‘primary spy targets’ The Age 26 July 2012)

As launching platforms for military activities, bases that provide troops, weapons and intelligence are also, by definition, military targets. Military bases destabilise regions and provoke military responses. While ostensibly for national security reasons, bases frequently provoke conflict and create the very insecurity they were intended to prevent.

The expansion of theUSmissile defence system inAustraliawill create more regional tension and instability, increasing the possibility of war.

Rory Medcalf asks how increasingAustralia’s military spending can “avoid conveying a more threatening posture in its region? How would it be possible to prevent this expansion … from creating great unease in some other countries, encouraging them to devote even more of their wealth to their own military capabilities?” (Rory Medcalf, “Questioning Australia’s Beowulf Option”, Security Challenges,  Vol. 4, Number 2 (Winter 2008), p149)

And of course the ANZUS alliance with theUShas embroiledAustraliain the conflicts inIraqandAfghanistanat an enormous financial and human cost.

Loss of sovereignty

By allowing foreign military bases to be established, the host country yields sovereignty over activities involving that facility. The Australian parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has complained that MPs are kept in the dark about the function and activities of theUSbase at Pine Gap and are “entrusted with less information than can be found in a public library”.

The former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser points out thatAustralia’s grovelling toWashingtonis hampering ties withAsia. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24/4/12) There is no doubt that the “deputy sheriff” label has stuck andAustraliais viewed with some caution by many of its regional neighbours, undermining the development of economic and political relationships.

Australia’s military relationship with theUS undermines the country’s  independence as well as making a nonsense of any commitment to disarmamentAustralia has.

The Medical Association for the Prevention of War criticises the Australia-US Treaty on Defence Trade Co-operation for risking a decrease in arms trade transparency, undermining Australia’s strong support for the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty process. (

In a letter, MAPW President Dr Jenny Grounds argues that the proposal to base nuclear-powered ships and aircraft inPerthwould be out of step with the nuclear weapons-free zone to whichAustraliahas been a signatory since 1985. (The Age, 4/8/12)

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam (press release 1Nov2012) makes a similar point when he says the role ofNorth WestCapein supporting theUSnuclear-armed submarine fleet is in conflict withAustralia’s commitments to nuclear disarmament.

Democratic impacts

An atmosphere of fear and insecurity is being fanned to assist a massive attack on civil liberties. Federal and State legislation, being used first against the Muslim community, is intended to destroy democratic rights and stifle all dissent.

70 per cent of Australians want less money spent on defence and a large majority, 82 per cent, oppose tax increases to pay for more defence spending. (2009AustralianNationalUniversitypoll). Over 70 per cent opposed Australian involvement in theIraqwar. A majority wantAustraliaout ofAfghanistanimmediately. None of these views have influenced the policies of Labor or Liberal governments.

The Australian Labor Party (right-wing social democrats), the Liberal Party (a conservative organisation), the military and the defence establishment (bureaucracy, academic and business) all support the alliance with theUSup to the hilt.  Indeed some commentators talk of a pathology which has made any serious debate on the issue inconceivable for over five decades.

Recently, however, the Australian Financial Review (9/8/12) has reported a growing split in the ranks of the social democratic Labor Government. Federal Defence Minister Stephen Smith described theUS marine deployment toDarwin as just an “evolution inAustralia’s long standing relationship with theUS. He also said theUS “will continue to be the most important strategic actor in our region for the foreseeable future”.

In contrast a former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating has said the Federal Government should not backUSrivalry against a risingChina. His view was supported by Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador toChina, who criticised the Federal Government’s decision to train US marines inAustralia’s north.

In a statement which stunned many commentators, a highly respected former Liberal Prime Minister weighed into the debate about the dangers of theUS“pivot”. He said:

Why does the United States talk of rebalancing military power to the Pacific? They already have massive power in the Pacific. More than all other nations combined. Do they really need more, for what purpose?

What useful purpose do marines based in Darwin fulfil? What is the purpose of spy planes on Cocos Island?

Far from contributing to peace and stability in the Western Pacific, they are creating a period of tension and even danger. Why?

Australia should not do anything that suggests that we could be part of a policy of military containment of China, but marines in Darwin, spy planes in Cocos Island make us part of that policy of containment.

This is the wrong way to preserve peace and security. We should not be part of it.

The choice for Australia to make is not for China or for the US, but independence of mind to break with subservience to America. Subservience has not and will not serve Australia’s interests. It is dangerous to our future.

Lost opportunities

In a changing strategic environment, there are opportunities for the Australian Government to build a safer, more secure environment. These opportunities are being thrown away.

The regional strategic environment is clearly complex and changing but this does not necessarily mean it is more dangerous.

William Tow paints the picture: “Australia’s traditional preference for allying with a ‘great and powerful friend’ to ensure its economic prosperity and national security is being tested by the growing reality that its future wealth will be determined by its position in Asia — and affected by the remarkable economic growth of China and India — even as Australian policy makers continue to assign strategic prominence to their country’s American alliance.”  (William Tow, “Tangled Webs. Security Architectures inAsia”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, July 2008)

Other analysts suggest thatAustraliamust consider the kind of military capabilities it will need in 2030 with the rise ofChinaandIndia. But why should we see the rise of these two nations as anything but benign?

Nuclear dangers

The pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons and their mix with conventional weapons to allow “flexibility of choice” is now officialUSdoctrine.( Doctrine for Joint Theatre Nuclear Weapons, February 1996, 3-12.1 viii)

How can we be guaranteed that US nuclear weapons are not based or transited throughAustralia’s land, sea or air and that an Australian inspection regime exists to ensure that this does not happen?

What implications flow from this for the training of the ADF and its involvement in joint military operations with theUSmilitary? Are nuclear use tactics practiced inAustraliaby any troops? Will the Federal Government refuse ADF support for anyUSmilitary missions while the current doctrine of nuclear first strike exists?

The US Pine Gap base in centralAustraliais central to the co-ordination ofUSnuclear strike plans.  Will the Federal Government deny use of this facility until theUSreverses its first strike policy?

Fight back

The USmilitary “pivot” to Asiaand the Indo-Pacific will inevitably create more regional tension and instability, it will provoke a regional arms race with its concomitant threats to budgets and democracy, and it will increase the possibility of war, even nuclear war.

Australian Government active support for the policy brings war to our doorstep, threatens the security of Australian community, and risks relations withAustralia’s major trading partner, the country credited with getting us through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed. It will cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars, making us poorer but no safer.

This has provoked a response in the Australian peace movement which has been small and relatively inactive for several years. New networks of peace groups have been established in all the State capitals, recently uniting into a national network (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network – IPAN), with the aim of raising public awareness and building opposition toCanberra’s support for the new Australian policy. This is an optimistic development within a sea of otherwise bad news.


US Military Eyes Australia


12 Oct 2012         New

Ben Brooker


The US military presence in Australia is quietly growing as their strategic axis shifts towards Asia. It’s time to demand some oversight of the US-Australia alliance, writes Ben Brooker :

Next month, Australian and US officials will meet in Canberra to ponder the future of the ANZUS alliance which, since 1951, has bound the two countries as well as New Zealand. The US embassy describes these so-called “AUSMIN” talks, held regularly since 1985, as “a valuable opportunity for Australian and US officials to discuss a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues”.

It is expected that this year’s meeting will yield more than the usual affirmations of the continuing strategic importance of ANZUS.

2012 has arguably been the most interesting year for observers of the Australia-US military relationship since 2001. Just over a decade ago, John Howard committed this country to a leading role in America’s “War on Terror”. Much has changed since the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Most crucially for Australia, the US military has shifted its focus from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific in light of the rise of regional superpowers China and India. President Obama’s visit to Australia in November last year paved the way for the stationing of up to 2500 US marines on a rotational but permanent basis in Darwin.

Australians were, on the whole, not much bothered. A Lowy Institute poll released this year suggested that three quarters of the population were in favour of the deployment. The poll’s verdict on the attitude of the populace to the US-Australia military alliance more broadly was no less plain: an unequivocal thumbs up.

A US government-commissioned report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies drew the same conclusion, noting, “Australian public support for the US alliance has risen to an eight-year high, with 87 per cent of Australians regarding it as important for Australia’s security”. However, the report did identify what it called “anti-Americanism” in some academic and other “elite” circles and “fringes”.

What neither the Lowy poll nor the CSIS report acknowledged is the extent to which the Australian public is being kept in the dark and misled by its own government in respect of the alliance which enjoys its unprecedented levels of support. It says much about the symbolic strength of ANZUS that so many Australians are willing to unquestioningly back it even as they are routinely denied the right to know what it consists of.

In August, Defence Minister Stephen Smith responded to reports that the US was considering basing a nuclear aircraft carrier fleet in Perth with this denial: “We don’t have United States military bases in Australia and we are not proposing to”. In a good example of doublespeak, the minister went on to make the usual, bland references to “greater access to our facilities” and the expansion of so-called “joint” or “shared” bases. What this means, in effect, is that if the US want to build more bases in Australia — and the Obama Administration has made it abundantly clear that it does — then Australian taxpayers will be expected to pay for them. Upgrades to Perth base HMAS Stirling to accomodate US ships could cost over a billion dollars alone.

On 21 September — the International Day of Peace — an Australia-wide organisation calling itself the Independent & Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) was launched. Its objective is to “Promote an independent Australian foreign policy that builds peace and nonviolent resolutions of conflict in our region”. Member groups include the Australian Anti-Bases Coalition, the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Friends of the Earth, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Philippines Australia Solidarity Association and the Socialist Alliance.

Secret negotiations between US and Australian officials have been underway for months. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans Robert Scher has said, “We [the US] are now engaged in discussions with Australians about… what kinds of facilities would we be using within Australia”. By Australians, Scher does not mean you and me, or any but a handful of the 22 million Australians whose money would be used to fund the expansion of US bases on Australian soil.

These negotiations are only the latest development in a period which has seen the US military presence in Australia quietly grow. Last month, the ABC revealed that an unmanned American Global Hawk spy drone had been flying in and out of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Edinburgh in South Australia since 2001. This story may never have been broken had it not been for the watchfulness of a group of aviation enthusiasts; in 2004, the then defence minister Robert Hill had plans to tell the Australian public about the flights scuppered by the US Air Force which insists on utter secrecy around its operations, particularly those involving its highly controversial drones.

It seems clear that the Global Hawk seen in South Australia (the flights probably ended sometime in the late 2000s) was a surveillance, rather than an attack craft, but its missions remain shrouded in secrecy.

What we do know is that the Gillard government is considering making the Cocos Islands available to the US as a base for both drones and troops. Stephen Smith has said that the Islands are not one of the government’s three defence priorities — namely, Darwin’s US marines, increased “air traffic” in the Northern Territory, and American access to the Navy’s HMAS Stirling base in Perth — but it is likely the US will look to us for support when the lease on its overcrowded base at Diego Garcia expires in 2016.

There is no question, too, that our Asian neighbours have been made anxious by the increased troop numbers in Darwin, and talk of an intensification of US drone activity in the region. Shortly after the announcement was made that Darwin would host up to 2500 US marines, the ABC reported that Chinese and Indonesian officials had expressed deep misgivings about the deal, arguing that the boost in troop numbers might lead to a “circle of mistrust and tension”. Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa called for “transparency of what the scenario being envisaged is”.

Australians would do well to ask the federal government the same question. A clearer picture will no doubt emerge after the US elections when the Pentagon’s budget for 2013 is released. A draft version has indicated that billions of dollars will be slashed from the budget, but that military spending on the whole will increase.

With the winding down of operations in key fronts of the War on Terror such as Afghanistan, where this increase will be channelled remains an open question. The draft, however, establishes one possibility which should concern all Australians: that, for the first time in 21 years, the US might station nuclear weapons in the Asia Pacific and ask its allies in the region to host them. The Pentagon has been spooked by the expansion of China’s military, and by what it sees as the belligerent posturing of “rogue” nations North Korea and Iran.

The question for our government is to what extent they are willing to commit us to a role in a new game of nuclear brinkmanship. Our loyalty to ANZUS will have to be measured against the importance of maintaining good relations with our Asian neighbours in the name of regional stability and, of course, trade. If a couple of thousand additional US troops in Darwin is enough to provoke alarm amidst the highest levels of governments within the region, what consequences would result from the docking of an aircraft carrier in Perth? The construction of a drone base on the Cocos Islands? The deployment of nuclear weapons on Australian soil?

The US’s path in all this is clear, and unambiguously put in the CSIS report: US military presence in Australia must be enhanced if its rebalancing towards Asia is to be sustainable. The precise nature of the part Australia will be asked to play has yet to be determined. We do not know, in short, how high our government will be asked to jump.